Thursday, August 2, 2007

Itching for the Sponge?

Twelve years after being pulled from the market and twelve years after the famous Seinfeld episode, the Today Sponge is back on the market. Although Elaine may be thrilled, I have some hesitations. At first it seems like a very reasonable contraceptive, since it does not contain hormones. However, after visiting the website to learn the spermicidal ingredients, I did a quick Google Scholar search on Nonoxynol-9 and found the following adverse effects keywords that make my alarm bells go off: Genital irritation, inflamation, itching, burning, and reduction in presence of lactobacilli (an important bacteria). Yikes!

Another big downfall, as reported by New York Times author Jane L. Levere, is the Today's Sponge's efficacy. She reports that, "research by Princeton University found that 16 percent of American women who had never given birth and may have used the sponge incorrectly or inconsistently became pregnant within a year, while 32 percent of women who had given birth and used the sponge this way became pregnant. The pregnancy rate for women who relied on condoms for birth control and may have used them incorrectly or inconsistently was 15 percent, while the rate for women using birth control pills in this way was 8 percent."

Wow. So as exciting as it is to have a new/old non-hormonal barrier contraceptive on the market, don't get too excited, Elaine - you might be itching to buy them in the literal sense!

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